Friday, 7 October 2016

Why we've switched our electricity and gas to Ecotricity - it's easy!

Are you as disgusted with Theresa May's government as I am right now? First they ignore public opinion and sign us up to build that Hinkley nuclear power station, then yesterday I learn that they have completely disregarded our democratic process and are forcing fracking onto Lancashire. Paris Climate Change treaty anyone? Perhaps it was naive of me to think that the Tories would be swayed by public opinion and outrage, so I am glad I am using cold, hard cash to make my point too. I know they listen to that!

A green lifestyle has become increasingly important to Dave and I so, when we bought our new home, I researched the various energy supply options open to us. There's a good comparison table on which I found useful. We were excited to see how much renewable energy is created in Devon - fields of solar panels and the hydroelectric turbines at Totnes - and I wanted to be a part of this, albeit in a small way. Hinkley and fracking are definitely Not In My Name.

I eventually settled on Ecotricity as being the best supplier for us because they promise entirely green electricity and frack-free gas, they have a low rate of customer complaints, and their tariffs are both simple and reasonably priced. There's even an extra dual-fuel discount for taking both electricity and gas. Plus we're not tied into a long-term contract so, if we ever do decide to switch again, this should be straightforward. I like Ecotricity's ethos and how profits are used to invent and refine new sustainable ways to create energy. Their new 'seamills' technology was invented by a Devonian engineer!

My first contact at Ecotricity was with Mark on the Welcome Team who answered all my questions promptly and mostly accurately. Our home's previous owner had been with a different company so it would take a while to change over - Mark said three weeks, it turned out to be a month - but they could start the process before we took possession to speed things along. Our gas supply switched over promptly on the 2nd of August, a week after we had moved in. Our online account was set up so we could easily enter meter readings, keep track of our usage and, of course, pay our bill! The electricity switch was more long-winded and we're not exactly sure why. The supply itself did also switch over at the start of August, but our online account wasn't available until two months later and I chased up communication several times to find out what was (or wasn't!) going on. The problem, I think, was getting the old supplier to send their closing meter reading over and it was a purely administrative issue. Our power came from Ecotricity and they knew it would all work through in time, however we had no way of knowing this from the vague message displayed in our online account so I did get worried for a while. Once we got a reassuring email response from Emily on the Home Team, the process and delay made more sense. It's probably obvious for people dealing with this every day, but for me as a real newbie it would have been nice to be given more information up front.

Whinge over!

The great news is that everything is sorted out now and we've had our first bills! Erm, Yay! We are very pleased with how low they are compared to our previous energy outlay for our old Sussex home. We're now looking at about £1 a day for our electricity and half that for our gas. Economical energy usage is something we've honed during our caravan-dwelling years, but we're not madly stingy about it and I had switched for ethical rather than financial reasons. It's great to actually be saving money too though. I like the warm glow that comes from doing the right thing - sadly that's not something we can feed back in to the National Grid! Ecotricity also encourage homeowner power generation such as fitting solar panels and small wind turbines where possible. I'm still toying with the idea of getting a reverse-wired exercise bike to pump out power. Apparently Tour De France cyclists can generate up to 400W per hour. We're off to France again soon so I'll look out for one!

I hope discussing our experience of switching to green energy will encourage readers to consider their own choices. We are very pleased with Ecotricity which is why I am happy to recommend them to everyone. If I have convinced you to also make the switch, there is an extra sweetener too. Think of it as your reward for reading this far! Please make sure to quote my personal code RAF-I2W6Y by phone, email or via the Ecotricity website and we will then both receive a John Lewis or LUSH voucher when your sign-up is confirmed. Thank you!

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